CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
When respected philosophers get attacked in the middle of the street, you know that something is going terribly wrong with the nation.
The Czech Republic (and before, Czechoslovakia) was always a tough, racist place. It had its shameful share of anti-Semitic pogroms (Franz Kafka wrote, after one of them, that he will never be able to feel that he belongs to Czechoslovakia, anymore). It voluntarily exterminated a great number of its Gypsy (Roma) population during the Second World War. And it kicked out millions of Germans right after the war, following a shameless orgy of rape, murder and looting. “Shameless”, because the Czechs generally collaborated with the Nazi occupation regime, and therefore had no moral mandate to “settle scores” with its German minority.
“Czechs were always outrageously racist, and low”, I was once told by my dear uncle who, during the Communist era was helping to build industry in the Middle East and elsewhere. A true internationalist and Marxist, he fell in love with the Arab culture and the Arab people, and he despised the bigoted attitudes of his colleagues towards them: “You would not believe what Czechs were doing in the Middle East. To make extra money, Czech workers were pimping their own wives, but then they were calling the Arab people names, despised them.”
I experienced Czech racism on my own skin, first hand. During my childhood, I was beaten after each class at my elementary school, simply for having half Asian and half Russian mother. “You have Asian ears”, I was told, after having my shoes pissed into during cold winter days, with urine freezing fast in a bitter cold.
Those Roma (Gypsies) who survived the war, and those who were later “imported” in cattle cars to settle the border regions that were left empty after the deportation of the German minority, had it, of course, much worse.
There have been millions of excuses and justifications for racism against the Gypsies. Most of them were outrageously and out rightly bigoted: “We are supporting them and they do not want to adapt, ungrateful lot.” To be a Gypsy meant that you had your children sent to some terrible “special schools” for retarded minors. It meant that you would never find a decent job. You were sidelined, insulted and left totally unprotected, because the entire society was against you, from those thugs at the street corners, to the Euro supremacists in the Parliament.
Zuzana Brejcha, a Czech-Austrian film director, wrote to me: “Discrimination and racism against the Czech and Slovak Gypsies (Roma) is absolutely horrifying.”
And now the refugees!
Czechs have collaborated with any power that bothered to penetrate their land. And they are collaborating now, more shamelessly than ever.
They collaborate with the West, and with its horrific imperialist onslaughts all over the world. After all, Czechs are proud members of NATO.
They are more “Catholic than the Pope”, attacking and provoking arrogantly all the great countries that are resisting Western fascism, including Cuba, China and Russia. They do it, as always, cowardly, knowing their backsides are being covered by the United States and Western Europe. They bark only if it brings some rewards. They do nothing for free.
Of course it all began with Vaclav Havel and his era. That arch darling of the West, and a member of one of the richest Czech families, immediately cashed on his dissident-ship and after the Czechoslovak people opted for their new (and richer) master, he went to Washington in order to perform a thoroughly embarrassing intellectual prostration in front of the US leadership, religiously and publicly licking the rectum of the most violent imperialist country on Earth.
Naturally, a “pragmatic” nation like this prefers not to see the big picture: not to understand how the refugees actually became refugees.
It only sees “a menace, a bother, and a discomfort” that arrived with those millions of destitute people whose countries were colonized, fooled and robbed by the West.
And on top of it, they complain, those refugees are mainly “black and brown and yellow” and “not like us, and absolutely unwilling to assimilate and accept that superior Christian Western culture.”
And so the Czech public opinion is now predictably totally against those devastated human beings, whose countries were royally screwed in order to make the West, including the Czech lands, so rich.
Consequently, the Czech army is deployed, and the concentration camps are being erected.
My friend, my fellow philosopher, Milan Kohout, has been threatened on the street only because he dares to defend the refugees; only for showing a mirror to the nation.
The line had been crossed. Outraged, I went to Prague, in order to add at least a few words to what was already said by Milan.
Death treats against Milan Kohout are unbelievably colorful. Milan himself sometimes jokes, sadly: “During the Communism, Czechs used to be very educated, a bookworm nation. Not anymore, of course, but their command of the language is still very advanced. This shows, unfortunately, in their intimidations:
“After we kill him he could perform in the Smichov Tunnel. His performance could be called: ‘Compositions and decomposition of the body’.”
“We will wait for you at night with fire torches, and burn your face.”
“I want to cut hands and feet of your family members and let them bleed to death.” (Milan has a three year old daughter)
“I would love to use pliers and pull out all your teeth.”
“I will first cut off your dick and then exterminate the rest of your family.”
“We will sent all immigrants and Kohout to gas chambers!”
“99.99 percent of the Czech people would love to chop your body to pieces.”
“Let us kick his ass not from the back but from the front.”
“I want to hang you on the tree, than to use acid so your body would decompose, and than burn it and throw it to some sewer as a food for rats.”
Milan is unrepentant. Now he carries a big knife and pepper spray in his pocket, while applying for a firearm license. He has no doubt where the Czech racism and wrath against “the others” really comes from:
“An identity of the Czech nation is very weak. Historically, it is the nation of collaborators”, he explains. “It is a tremendously frustrated nation, which is not at all at peace with itself. And after the so-called ‘collapse of Communism’ here, the Christian religion, both Protestant and Catholic, began raising its ugly head, once again. And Christianity is almost synonymous with the racism and intolerance. On top of it, there is this overall European culture of intolerance and racism all around the continent.”
Milan Kohout is mainly hated here because he defends the refugees and because he dares to demonstrate, as a thinker and as a political performer, that the West in general and Europe in particular, have been busy destabilizing and looting countless countries all over the Middle East, Africa and Asia, forcing millions of people to flee their homelands, becoming refugees. He does not think that accommodating refugees is an act of charity: he thinks it is Europe’s obligation.
He holds Europe responsible for the crises, claiming that the continent is morally liable for all horrors the refugees are fleeing from, and therefore has to open its doors and accept millions of people that are seeking asylum at its shores. The Czech Republic, a member of NATO and one of the most eager allies of the United States, should take at least 1 million of migrants, he demands.
But Prague is quickly turning into one of the main centers of anti-immigrant sentiments, with people like Lutz Bachmann from German anti-Islam PEGINA movement often giving fiery and bigoted speeches here.
As AFP recently reported:
“Czech President Milos Zeman has come under fire for his fiery anti-migrant broadsides, earning sharp criticism from the UN’s human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who has also accused Prague of systematically detaining migrants in “degrading” conditions to deter others from entering the country.”
Mr. Milan Kohout recently confronted Milos Zeman, the Czech President, on several occasions. He also accused the Czech nation of racism. He managed to ‘infiltrate’ the most notorious “refugee camp” in the country, in Běla pod Bezdězem, which he described as “not too different from the concentration camps from the Second World War”.
President Zeman fired back, accusing Milan Korout of hypocrisy: “Go take some refugees to your own home, if you are so concerned about their fate.”
Milan accepted the challenged. He loaded his wife and baby to a car, and drove to
Běla pod Bezdězem, in order to “pick up few refugees and take them home”.
What awaited him was a nightmarish camp, and extremely aggressive guards. “Have you fallen from Mars?” he was told. “Taking the refugees home?”
He got smuggled into the camp by a Syrian NGO employee. And what he saw was a horror. People stripped of all dignity, their passports and money “confiscated”.
“Refugees looked like some dangerous criminals, like detainees; they were living behind bars and some terrible barbed wire”, explained Milan. “They robbed them of everything, their rectums were checked, fingered, even the rectums of little children. Money was confiscated. I spoke to one family from the destroyed Iraq. A man used to be a journalist. He had to leave, with his wife and small children. They were all detained, near the border, and they were handcuffed, humiliated and interrogated, before being sent to the camp… Only because, by a mistake, they stepped few meters into the country, on the Czech soil, while moving through Austria.”
“Fuck the refugees”, I was told on board a train from Prague to Pardubice, by a teacher! “Those niggers should stay where they are.”
Many in the Czech Republic are now suggesting that immigrants should be gassed. I first though it is part of some shade of infamous “black” Czech humor. But it was not. It was Golden Dawn, like in Greece and rest of Europe.
Now people in Czech Republic are alert and very edgy. When we discussed the topic of racism with Ms. Infidelius, a middle-aged man, who was obviously upset with us, approached the table:
“You are talking bullshit!” He shouted at me.
“How do you know?” I replied. “Were you spying on us?”
“Yes, I was listening!” He replied aggressively. “You think you can hide by speaking English? Defending those Arab niggers!”
“What is next?” I asked. “Are you going to start gassing the Muslims?”
He backed up. He intuitively realized that I was going to fight him. Right there, in the pub, the old fashioned way. One more word he would utter, and it would be a fist in his muzzle. How else with the Nazis?
Later, Ms. Mara Infidelius, commented:
“Main-stream Czech musician Daniel Landa who used to sing in the racist band “Orlik” in the 1990s (and has distanced himself from it ever since) recently had a huge concert (50,000 attended) where he sang several Orlik songs such as “Bily Jezdec” (White Knight). He also told the audience that we are “at war.”
Czech racism seems to have always been about hating the under-dog (the
Romany). Now the mass media is full of hateful quotes against the refugees from the President, politicians, and other prominent figures. Threatening ‘race traitors’ with nooses at demonstrations and spewing hatred on the Internet is the new normal.
There are anti-refugee and pro-refugee demonstrations, but no one seems to see the big picture. Who caused the crisis? Why aren’t we demonstrating in front of the Embassy of the United States or Saudi Arabia?”
But the sentiments do not seem to follow logic.
“In a Moravian village where I come from, you would not find one single Muslim in the radius of 20 kilometers”, my Czech publisher (Broken Books) once told me. “But they all hate Muslims there. It is simply racism. I cannot stand it here, anymore. I myself am thinking about leaving this country, about emigrating. But I still don’t know where to go.”
Internationalists during the Communist era, the Czech people now seem to be under the spell of the lowest mass culture, under the most vulgar form of European and Christian racism, and a superiority complex, all that Carl Jung, after World War II, called “a pathology.’
Was it really worth overthrowing the socialist government for this, a quarter of century ago?
The Czechs really “returned home”. But their home is not some ”freedom and democracy” as the arch collaborator Vaclav Havel used to claim, but the Western oppressive imperialist regime, savage capitalism, as well as the two dreadful twin sisters: ignorance and racism.